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  • Sep 30, 2021

Strengthening Ties: Weekly News Roundup

Rhythm of the Five Color Luster (2013), contemporary Korean lacquerware by CHUNG HAECHO. Photo by Paula Lobo. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

On September 20, the government of South Korea bestowed a lacquerware work by artist Chung Haecho upon The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Chung’s Rhythm of the Five Color Luster (2013) comprises a set of five vessels, one for each of the Korean obangsaek hues. The traditional color scheme references the five basic elements in East Asian cosmology, namely wood (blue), fire (red), earth (yellow), water (black), and metal (white), although Chung replaced white with green as the former cannot be produced in ottchil (Korean lacquer). Chung is a famous contemporary ottchil artist, whose works have been collected by international institutions including London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The gift was presented in a private ceremony at The Met, attended by South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook; the Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Hwang Hee; and the Korean pop supergroup BTS, which was recently named "special presidential envoy for future generations and culture" by President Moon Jae-in.